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LETTER | The disruption of traditional politics

LETTER | There is a frenetic race to replace Ismail Sabri Yaakob as prime minister. Will it be Anwar Ibrahim? As we watch the drama unfold, a grim reality lurks. Whoever steps into Putrajaya will inherit an economic, social, and political mess with no easy fix.

The country may already be in recession and the economic outlook may get worse. Consumer confidence is at its worst level and inflation is rising. This condition may make matters difficult to unveil any stimulus packages.

What we may require is a credible plan to reduce national debt. What we actually require is a miraculous plan to effectively navigate the economy through the cost of living crisis and the steady diminishing of the ringgit against the greenback.

Let’s be honest, we have no idea what the effect will be on household budgets while the manifestos publicised and circulated by political coalitions lack clarity and certainty.

The state of Malaysian politics today is a consequence of decades of underinvestment in public administration, education, social activities, national programmes, and poor leadership, which are all key contributing factors.

We are largely fragmented and this fragmentation is evident at multiple layers of government policies, and this has led to heightened questions on the future of Malaysia.

There are also ongoing tensions between the federal and state governments, reduced service quality and agility, lack of coordination, and the failure to address complex and wicked issues, while professional services are outsourced, agencies are under resourced, underpaid and over-inspected.

Moreover, there has been no innovative policy experiments, policies are implemented without formal evaluation.

All these mishaps must be reversed and these critical matters require sustained investment, and a renewed commitment to nation building. These values must be embedded into politics, all national policies, and public administration.

Once, Malaysia was considered to be one of the most politically stable country in the region under BN, but, of late, we have become increasingly confusing and unpredictable. There are fierce divisions that exist now over the political divide, which remain unsettled and is worsening by the day.

Yes, “politics has changed”, but where Malaysian politics is headed remains unclear. We are constantly struggling to find cohesion and this has led to a federal coalition government, requiring political compromise.

Malaysia doesn’t feel stable anymore and voters are becoming more volatile over time having lost their tribal loyalties and becoming more consumerist, willing to switch depending on the offer. Essentially, the voters are no longer an army but a crowd.

Turning to the manifestos, all were invented, designed, and intended to respond to popular dissatisfaction to end BN’s austerity, with some political parties and leaders making sweeping commitments which will increase borrowings and higher taxes.

The current chaos has made it very complicated for political parties and leaders and traditional politics has been seriously disrupted. Voters are no longer so easy to please.

Is this an aberration? Or is this the new normal?


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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